Over the last few years, one of the most common complaints with wireless customers has been carriers allowing third-parties to put charges on customers bills in the hopes of the customers not realizing that their bill is being over-charged. This is commonly called “cramming”.
We have written about situations like this before involving a variety of wireless and broadband carriers. When customers eventually do figure out that they are being over-billed, carriers have told customers to deal with it or to try and contact the third-party, who likely can’t do anything to help the consumers.
Thankfully, over the last two years, the FCC has investigated and fined all major US carriers due to past cramming activities. Although the problem has not been stopped, the cramming complaints have gone down quite substantially.
However in the UK, customers with one carrier are seeing continued cramming issues. In the Guardian last week, one Virgin Mobile customers wrote to the newspaper about being charged roughly £20 (or $27) for a service that they had never authorized or dealt with before.
How did Virgin respond to the customer?
I contacted Virgin and got through to a customer service person. She informed me I would have to text STOP to the number given to unsubscribe. When I pointed out that I had never subscribed she said it wasn’t their problem but between me and the company that had been taking my money. She claimed I must have answered a text to give them the authority to raid my account and there was nothing I could do except unsubscribe. – Guardian
As the Guardian tech writer noted in a response to the letter, customers are sending the newspaper “so many letters about this problem”. In this situation, a third-party called PhonepayPlus, was having charges put on Virgin customers bills without the customers knowledge all the while claiming that they (PhonepayPlus that is) was giving customers some worthless text-messaging service.
Much like in the US, it is likely that the third-party company and the carrier have an an agreement that gives the carriers a cut of the money that is charged and paid off. Hence why this goes on so often….so the carriers can make even more money off their own customers.